Rumer has it, ’60s are back

The singer Rumer, above, un­furls her throw­back sound.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Mikael Wood mikael.wood@la­times.com

The Bri­tish singer known as Rumer in­hab­its a world of bor­rowed ar­ti­facts.

Her voice re­calls that of Karen Car­pen­ter. Her look is very Laura Nyro. And her song “Aretha” wasn’t just in­spired by the leg­endary soul star — it de­scribes the act of lis­ten­ing to Aretha Franklin.

Per­form­ing Thurs­day night amid the bold­faced re­mains at Hol­ly­wood For­ever Ceme­tery, Rumer (not to be con­fused with Bruce Wil­lis and Demi Moore’s daugh­ter of the same name) showed off an­other ac­qui­si­tion as she in­tro­duced the mem­bers of her band.

“Here he is,” she said, ges­tur­ing to­ward her key­boardist and pro­ducer, Rob Shi­rak­bari, to whom she’s en­gaged. “I stole him from Dionne War­wick.”

Think of Rumer, then, as a col­lec­tor of oth­ers’ dis­cov­er­ies — more a mag­pie than the crea­ture in her song “Black­bird.” But, man, does she bor­row beau­ti­fully, with a voice that floats like a warm­ing breeze.

Held in­side the ceme­tery’s cozy Ma­sonic Lodge, Thurs­day’s con­cert was the fi­nal date of a U.S. tour be­hind last year’s “Into Colour,” which Rumer called her “Amer­i­can record” be­cause she wrote and recorded it in Los An­ge­les. The singer, born Sarah Joyce in Islamabad to an English mother and a Pak­istani fa­ther, broke out in 2010 with a de­but al­bum that re­vived the plush sound of late-’60s easy-lis­ten­ing pop — and quickly won praise from some of the ar­chi­tects of that style, in­clud­ing Burt Bacharach.

Yet the ef­fects of fame, at least those she ex­pe­ri­enced in the U.K., were over­whelm­ing and, cou­pled with a se­ries of trau­matic life events, led to a to­tal retreat from the spot­light. Rumer sought refuge in Lau­rel Canyon, where she took up with Shi­rak­bari (who had worked as War­wick’s mu­si­cal direc­tor); to­gether, they cre­ated sump­tu­ously ar­ranged songs about a happy es­cape into a kind of imag­ined fan­tasy.

“We need a change of scene / Let’s step in­side a dif­fer­ent dream,” she sings in “Pizza and Pin­ball,” “re­mem­ber how things used to be.”

At Hol­ly­wood For­ever — with open­ing act P.F. Sloan, the song­writer whose life be­came the sub­ject of the 1970 Jimmy Webb song “P.F. Sloan” — the singer moved through her 90-minute set with an ef­fort­less­ness that be­lied the com­plex­ity of her melodies. She re­laxed her phras­ing to a hyp­notic crawl in “Slow” and brought a dash of sen­su­al­ity to “Baby Come Back to Bed.” “I Am Blessed,” with its de­scend­ing, hymn-like cho­rus, was al­most ab­surdly gor­geous.

For all the pu­rity of her voice, though, Rumer her­self re­mained weirdly (if in­trigu­ingly) opaque, even as she re­counted the cir­cum­stances of a song such as “Black­bird,” which she said was about learn­ing to let go of cer­tain feel­ings. Her man­ner was set­ting you up for a clas­sic singer-song­writer ex­pe­ri­ence — a con­fes­sion, in other words. But the mu­sic kept di­rect­ing you else­where, never more so than in her hall-of-mir­rors ren­di­tion of “P.F. Sloan.”

Re­turn­ing to the stage for her en­core, Rumer and the band slid into “Thank­ful,” in which she sketches a scene of sub­ur­ban nor­malcy — “Six o’clock, sum­mer af­ter­noon / Next door’s kids are play­ing in the yard.”

And, sure, Rumer seemed in touch with it. But not nearly so much as she was with the song’s next cou­plet: “Do­ing the dishes at the win­dow, and the ra­dio’s play­ing ‘Su­per­star.’ ”

Lawrence K. Ho L.A. Times

HOL­LY­WOOD, CA

Lawrence K. Ho Los An­ge­les Times

THE SINGER known as Rumer wraps up a U.S. tour with a show at Hol­ly­wood For­ever’s Ma­sonic Lodge.

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